Saturday, December 15, 2012

snow days

After a very dry and windy early winter here in Palmer we finally got our wish for a white Christmas.  A really white one if all this snow sticks around. It does my heart good to see snow falling straight down for a change, and landing on trees even! We have been out playing with the grommits.  Sadie got her first sled today, and after a couple runs down the pasture hill, Loren towed her all around the trails in our woods while she sang "Jingle Bells" at the top of her lungs.  Christmas with a two-point-five year old  is so awesome.  Eli only adds to the merriment by stealing my qiviut cowl and looking oh so cute and photogenic.
and just for fun...dug up these pictures of Sadie's first December. I am a lucky mama to have so many sweet memories with my little girl, and to be making new ones with this little man.
Wishing you all a beautiful holiday season.  Cherish this time with your loved ones--hold them close to you heart and say a prayer for all the grieving families in Connecticut- may they find some peace and comfort.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

happy endings and beginnings

These pictures have nothing to do with this blog post, except that I have hardly any pictures of Eli and me together, and since this sort of doubles as his baby book, I needed to represent.  Now...onto the good, great and better news.

 Last week ended on a really sad note with my doggo Cash disappearing into thin air on Friday.  After 3 days of searching and posting flyers and haunting craigslist with no sign of him a kind lady called us on Monday and told us she had seen our flyer on the bulletin board at the grocery store, and then saw Cash running and terrified in her neighborhood on the way home.  Since he wouldn't go to her, she went back, got our number and called, and Loren was able to drive to the location she had seen him and find him.  We are so, so happy.  I had honestly written him off as a goner after days of hiking around the trails in the woods by our house, and driving all the neighborhood streets looking in the ditch for him. Since his return I have received a couple of calls from people saying they saw him here and there, and that poor pup--he was very lost, and pretty much ran an ultra-marathon trying to find his way home.

Our kind new neighbors who Loren met while looking for Cash dropped off a big stack of firewood, and our other neighbor who is a vet came over and checked Cash out to make sure he was whole and healthy after his journey.

To add to the great happiness of our prodigal pup's return, Eli and Sadie got a new cousin yesterday!  Loren's brother and his wife are now the proud parents to a beautiful baby girl (born on my Sister in Law's birthday no less!) And Dimitri gets to be a big brother:)

But that's not mom and her husband who I haven't seen in 8 months get to come stay with us for two weeks.  Yay for Elias who gets to meet his other Grandma and Grandpa for the first time, Yay for Sadie who is already plotting out all the projects she wants grandma Jones to help her with (getting a Christmas tree and baking a gingerbread house and making more bird feeders is what she told me today, but the list is ongoing). And Loren is stoked to have Grandpa Ernie here to help him with his mission to fell the standing dead trees on our property and buck them up into firewood.  

So... in this season of thanksgiving, I am so so thankful, and excited for the warm and busy winter months we have ahead of us!

Friday, November 9, 2012

for the birds

Sadie has been after me to make a bird feeder for all the chickadees that have been flitting around our porch.  I saw this quick and easy idea for a pine cone bird feeder in a book we have, and we decided to give it a try.  It is a perfectly textural and messy project for a 2-year-old.  All you need is a pine cone, birdseed and some peanut butter.  I didn't have peanut butter so I mixed coconut oil and a little bit of almond butter--I'm sure you could use suet or any other sticky fat that birds would dig.

1.) Tie a piece of twine (for hanging) around your pine cone before you slather it with the nut butter. Believe me, it is easier to do this way.
2.) Glop the nut butter all over the pine cone (you may need to taste test it first)
3.) Roll sticky messy pine cone in birdseed
4.) Apply a few lingonberries to make it festive.
5.) Hang in trees and wait for birds to come eat it (or squirrels, OR moose and bears according to Sadie).
Happy Holidays to our backyard friends.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

tour de house: part 1

Hello friends and family, since everyone is so far away and ya'll been asking for a virtual tour of the new home, here you go!  This is the view from half-way up our driveway.  You see all those tall things growing up towards the sky?  Trees! Wheeeeee! {I will never under appreciate trees again after our 6 years in Nome.} That other large thing is a lawn...also, very novel.
Now...down to important business.  Here is the detached garage/ stable, also know to some members of the household (namely me) as Tara's Pottery Barn. 

Eli at two months

 Come on guys... this is a serious blog post for my serious little guy.  Okay, not really.  Elias has really started to smile and squeal with delight the last couple of weeks...except when I get the camera out.  Then all I can get out of him are these skeptical looks.
Who are you, and where did my mom go? All things considered {the spitting up and screaming being all things} Eli is one charming little fellow, and by little I mean 18 lbs and 26 inches long.  I guess I can rest assured that some of that milk is staying down, or else Eli is just growing on all the loves he gets.

 I confess, I am one smitten mama--who can resist those chubby baby cheeks and sweet smiles?  Even the fussiness isn't as stressful this time around, because I know how fast these stages whiz by and I am trying to just enjoy Eli as a baby, because he wont stay that way for long.  He is getting busy already-- and to keep me on my toes he has decided to do everything different than his sister.  Sadie loved being nursed to sleep--not this guy.  He needs motion to snooze.  Thank goodness for the hand-me-down baby swing from Loren's aunt. He is just starting to grab at things, and his favorite past time is kicking the corner of his play gym to make all the toys wiggle.  I can see the little cause and effect wheels turning in his baby brain.  Eli seems to be a very alert and observant baby; he loves to check out the world around him--his favorite thing probably being his sister, because boy does he ever get to smiling every time she comes around. Sadie is a good big sister.  Although she gets jealous at times, she has a very innate sense of gentleness which I have greatly appreciated these last two months. Well, speaking of Eli--he is awake and needing some mama time now, so I am going to sign off on this post.  I'll be back before you know it with the three month update, because that's just the way time flies.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

moving in

We met some of our new neighbors yesterday.
 They were so kind to stop by unannounced and do a little impromptu trimming of the raspberry patch.
 Things got a little awkward when they spied the old couch {this belonged to Loren's fam since he was a little kid, it now sits in the garage awaiting a re-upholstery job to begin it's third or fourth life}. 

 I guess they didn't care for our taste in furniture, because they up and left without so much as a goodbye.
 Geeze guys...have some vision.
Well at any rate, we are getting settled in.  Who needs furniture when you have a crackling fire?...and dogs who are generous enough to share a corner of their bed.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Things are a little hectic around here lately, and that might just be the understatement of the year.  Packing with a toddler and a are really no words.  Lets just say I am in mothering survival mode.  Sadie has been spending a lot of time watching Curious George on the iPhone and Eli has been spending a lot of time screaming and spitting up and needing to be held constantly.  I am scrambling to get anything done, and this whole week has felt like the proverbial one step forward, two steps back.  At 7 o'clock today I set Eli down in his chair, where he immediately commenced fussing and I sat down to have a moment's rest.  Sadie was intensely engaged in the umpteenth party dance of the day.  Suddenly the song changed to "Atlas Hands" by Benjamen Francis Leftwich and Sadie crawled up in my lap and put her arms around my neck and said, "mama snuggle Eli, mama oozed to snuggle Sadie" and I realized how long it has been since I just had a quiet moment with my little girl.  And even though there were a million things to do and a baby demanding to be held I just pushed pause to enjoy the sweetness of a two-year-old's unfaltering affection.  It was the kind of moment you just want to lock away in your heart because you know that in a blink of an eye your kids will be grown and your life will be calm and settled, but you will miss this moment of chaos and stress because all you will remember is that sweet face and "fruffy" head of curls, and sticky fingers that need washed and how much you love, love love this little person who is having to be so very grown up all of a sudden. That is the hardest thing about going from one to two. But when I see how adoringly Eli already smiles at his big sister, and how sweet and gentle she is when she helps me give him a bath and a baby "sassage" (massage) I know that soon enough all these kinks will smooth out and these two will be thick as thieves--and that they will teach one another so many important lessons of co-operation and compassion. Sometimes you just have have faith that the pieces will all fall together in their own time, and sometimes you just need to pause for a snuggle. 

After all, "gee--I wish I hadn't snuggled and loved up my babies every moment I possibly could" said no mother ever.

Friday, October 5, 2012

this and that

This little bean is 5 weeks old now, and while he is pretty much a good baby, he is a SUPER up-chucker.
That is not hyperbole.  It is a little alarming how much this baby pukes.  On the plus side, he probably weighs close to 14lbs now, so he is obviously keeping some of his milk down... on the downside it seems pretty miserable for him to be such a puker all the time....aaaaand he has a 3 hour bout of fussing to intense screaming in the evenings.  We like to call it Eli's happy hour around these parts.  We make some drinks and Loren and I attempt to have a conversation that goes like this: "WHAT, I can't hear you!" "Huh?" "Never mind." The other night I came out into the living room to find Loren rocking the boy with his noise-cancelling ear phones on--he says, "Man this really takes the edge off."

After lots of reading and research and trial and error I believe that his constant puking is a reaction to something in my diet, and when I eat no wheat or dairy products there seems to be an immediate improvement.  So as of a couple days ago I became a no gluten, no dairy kind of girl.  That pretty much eliminates all good things that I want to eat during the holiday season with my breastfeeding munchies.  Dang.  As far as the evening happy hour goes--I think he is just trying to shut himself down for the night.  Sadie went through a similar spell.  We are all just praying he grows out of it and in the meantime are reciting the age old parenting mantra, "this too shall pass." 

Other than that, Eli is a happy, sweet baby during the day, and a pretty good sleeper at night.  So we are fortunate.  I don't feel wrecked for sleep like I did the first time around, but between Sadie and my pregnancy with Eli I haven't had an uninterrupted night's sleep in two years, so I'm groovy with nightwakings now.  For those of you who are with two children is even more awesome and simultaneously terrifying than life with one.  Between packing and Sadie's new favorite activity of taking everything out and putting it to some imaginary use and then leaving it in a totally different part of the house we are living in a disaster area. 

Also, I have been trying to cook good, wholesome food for our family and figure out ways to keep this gluten/dairy free thing real while providing adequate nourishment for the two-year-old.  I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but I'm a fairly decent cook.  Regardless, some days I can't seem to get Sadie (who has always been an excellent and adventurous eater) to try anything.  And then I will catch her eating a dog biscuit. WTF?  She would be one happy girl if I just served her up a dog treat with a side of butter, because that is the other thing she is always trying to sneak out of the kitchen. Just when I'm about to lose faith, the kid surprises me, by ravenously devouring everything on her plate... like tonight:
bacon spinach salad, figs and plums and wholewheat pasta with sundried tomatos.  All gone. 
The 3 ingredient maple pumpkin souffles I made yesterday:
not so much.  Oh well.  And then there is always snacktime trauma when your banana rainbow breaks in half. 
I'm not usually one to take pictures of my crying kid... I was actually trying to snap a picture of Sadie because she looked so pretty with the sun coming through the window with the Christmas cactus blooming, but then this happened. Yep.  So that's us right now, in a state of beautiful upheaval and continual chaos, but happy, and thankful for family and a break in the weather, and two healthy kids, and our wonderful CSA box that is full of fresh goodness every week--and excited, so excited for our big move and a new home to settle into.  I think it was NOFX who sang that "life is like chinese's sweet and sour..."  but mostly sweet, and I'll have mine without MSG, or gluten, or dairy. please.
its for the kids.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

sesame duck

I love me some subsistence foods, but I won't lie, duck is not my fave.  That being said, my fella sure does like the waterfowl hunting, so in spite of my best efforts to persuade him otherwise, our freezer is very full of quackers. I am a firm believer in making the best of what you have, and not letting anything go to waste, so I am always looking for new and tasty ways to cook duck.  This one is good.  It is a recipe designed for chicken--but it was very delish with waterfowl.  Let's just say there were no leftovers.

Sesame Duck- Adapted from Doreen P's Perfect Sesame Chicken:

Friday, September 28, 2012

four weeks

A handful of crooked, priceless baby smiles
Infinity kisses on sweet baby cheeks
Not so infinite naps and stolen moments of peace and quiet
Diaper changes too numerous to count
days of not being puked on.. too few to count
Two-kid melt downs more frequent than I can admit to on this happy blog post
Two wide eyes, starting to check out the world around
Five hundred meditations of mothers' gratitude for the gift of two healthy, beautiful children
Four weeks of falling in love with this sweet boy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sadie's Dreefees

“Most kids have a special stuffed animal, ratty blanket or dog-eared book they take to sleep with them – and a lot of kids, lacking this talisman, go berserk and scream themselves to sleep. Bill Bob had no one special talisman: Bill Bob had dreefees. None of us ever quite figured out the etymology of that word, but when I asked him years later Bill Bob thought it might be an amalgamation of ‘dream’ and ‘feed’ – food for dreams you might say.
 David James Duncan

 When Sadie was little we tried to get her to take to a particular lovey--it was a mild mannered teddy bear named Murray.  But Murray never stuck.
For a long time, Sadie didn't have bedtime lovey at all, but around 19 or 20 months she began to bring "self-proclaimed loveys" to bed with her to snuggle with.  First it was a bunny I made, then, a wooden sea otter my brother Gabe carved--which was cute, until you woke up with it wedged under your back.  For a while it was a favorite ABC book, or another toy from the rotation of stuffed animals.  This summer, the list of things that need to go to bed with Sadie has grown a bit, and become more random.
For example--sometimes we need "ALL Sadie's friends" which consists of Tiger, two stuffed Dogs, Joey doll, Elmo, Owl, Baby Blue (a rubber whale that goes over the spout of the bathtub so kids don't bonk their heads) and a Curious George book.
Last night, there was just Tiger, a harmonica, two kitchen spoons, and a rat-tail comb (I had to take the last three things out after she fell asleep for safety sake) 
I was feeling a little disconcerted by this rotation of oddities in the bed, and then I remembered the little brother from David James Duncan's The River Why and his dreefees, and I realized, that is exactly what Sadie has.
Like many things about getting to know the small humans you are raising, Sadie's selection of dreefees is a source of amusement, wonder and curiosity to Loren and I...and even though lately we have been moving her into her own bed after she falls asleep, sometimes we still find strange things in the bed come morning.
At least we know how they got there now.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

the summer that came and went

The summer kind of got away from my camera this year.  I guess that happens when you are umpteen months pregnant and chasing a two-year-old, not to mention trying to buy a house in a different town over 500 miles away from the one you live in.  But it really was, all in all, a wonderful, delightful summer--especially the month of August, which we spent mostly together as a family and Sadie got unlimited dad time, much to her delight.  I think we visited every other playground and walking trail in the Anchorage area.  Sadie even told me that the baby needed to come out of my belly so I could start going down the twisty slide with her.
Among our adventures, we happened upon the gem that is the Anchorage Botanical Gardens.  While I'm sure the prime time to go is early summer, it was stately in it's late August colors, and I just happened to have my camera with me. Some of the photos were quite lovely--I thought I'd share them here, so I can sneak back in the white months that are fast approaching for a warm dose of colors.  If you let your mind wander you can almost smell the peppery nasturtiums and hear the hum of the bees.

 And for this girl...I photo-documented the mushrooms.  She was quite enamored with her fungi on this trip.  She can even tell you why you shouldn't eat them.

But they sure are pretty.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

and then there were two...

On August 31st, at five in the morning on a blue moon Friday, little Elias William was born at the Geneva Woods birthing center.  I feel so blessed to have delivered this little, ahem...11 lb. (22 1/2") baby all natural with no drugs or interventions--and a short (3 1/2 hour) labor.  We are all so over the moon for him.  And please forgive me if the blogs are a little sporadic for the next few weeks because I am a busy mama.  Busy lovin' up my babies, and busy packin' up almost 6 years of Nome life to move to a new house in Palmer, Alaska.  Like Bob Dylan said, "times, they are a changin."

Sunday, August 19, 2012


It's been awhile since I've hopped on ye old bloge.  I've been busy, and preoccupied trying to put the finishing touches on this human I'm growing.  I am also away from home--and my camera doesn't sync with this here pc...and blogging without pictures is just not as satisfying somehow.  I can promise I will be on here again soon though, with LOTS of pictures.

For now, I am just in the big city, waiting and waiting the arrival of this new little one.  We came down here at 37 1/2 weeks after the baby seemed tempted to make an early appearance, but now on my "official" due date, there seems to be little chance of that.  I remember going overdue with Sadie was so discouraging and disappointing.  Somehow this time it doesn't seem bad.  Maybe it's because I have an awesome kid and husband to hang out with to keep me busy.  Maybe it's because Sadie is going through an amazing language development burst, and getting a glimpse of the way she processes the world every day is a small miracle, if not at least a delightful distraction.  To top it off, I have been blessed with a real second wind this last week.  I feel really, well, dare I say good?  Good enough to go on a 5 mile hike through beautiful birch forest yesterday, and to hit up a farmers market and enjoy a wonderful dinner replete with lots of fresh, delicious veggies.

I guess if you're going to have to wait, you may as well do it in style (and in the relaxing environment of Babka Sophie's house). So this is where we will be until the new little one decides to make his/her grand entrance.  Many blessings to you all as August winds down into early fall.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

hiking with tots

It was a perfect morning for a "hike" at the top of Anvil Mountain with our friends Zoe, Jasper, Elise & Huckleberry.
 I've decided that when you are 7 months pregnant toddlers are the best hiking companions.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

perfect beer-battered fish

It's summer--or close enough, and here in the greatland that means that it's time to use up the old fish in the freezer to make room in anticipation for the new.  One well loved method of using up said fish is ye ole beer batter and fry.  I have been searching high and low for a beer batter recipe that sticks to the fish and fries up that lovely golden brown color, and stays crisp even if you have to hold it in a warm oven while you fry up a giant batch, you know what I mean?
Well...I found it.  
This is really, really good beer batter.  
And it's really easy.
So easy, in fact that it only contains 2 ingredients
(well, 3 if you count salt)

Mix together: 
approximately 3 cups of flour
20 oz beer
(that's like a beer and a half. You can polish off the other half as you cook)
Use a good, flavorful beer.  I used AK amber.
add a dash of salt.
leave it on the counter covered with a tea towel for a few hours before cooking your fish.
I think this is what makes the batter thick and wonderfully sticky to adhere to the fish.

Season your fish with the delicious spices of your choice before dipping in the beer batter and frying.
plain old salt'n'peppa works fine, but feel free to get fancy if the spirit moves.
(we always fry in peanut oil because it is stable at high temps--
coconut oil would be good too--but expensive)
don't burn. 
keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all the fish is done.
use up the extra batter to make some amazing onion rings. 
soooooooo good.
serve with the dipping condiment of your choice. 

You might want to schedule some time to go for a hike after you eat this... 
but you won't be sorry you tried it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Important fashion questions, brought to you by Sadie

You might have read recently in the news that Anchorage, Alaska was voted the worst dressed city in the nation.  Well--I can't say about that one way or another because living in rural Alaska has blinded me to all but the most heinous of fashion crimes.  
That is why I don't bat an eye when my kid elects to wear an outfit like this. 
Let's break it down.
Does it matter that the sunhat is too small? 

Is my kid totally sporting a shiner that matches her purple shirt?
unfortunately, yes.

Are big girl undies acceptable as both casual and formalwear?
heck to the yes, as long as it means someone goes pee in the potty!

Does it take me fifteen minutes to get both shoes and socks on her feet so we can go into the yard and feed the chickens?
sure does.
In fact, running away from mom while she tries to get Sadie ready to go anywhere has become a really popular sport around here lately.  My solution?  I just sit down on the couch with whatever it is that Sadie wont put on, and say, "come here Cash... come put on this yellow jacket/ pair of socks, shoes...etc" and Sadie immediately comes and informs me that it is "Sasie's" not Cash's and puts it on.  
Do I realize that this trick is going to last for a limited time only?
of course.

But I'm 7 months pregnant.  I'm tired. Its hard to put my own {unfashionable} shoes on...let alone shoe a wiggly toddler. 
I'm hoping that by the time Sadie figures it out I'll be back on my A game. 
But A game or no--I certainly don't plan to censor this little one's budding sense of style. 
Heck.  When it's sunny and 70 in Nome, it kind of seems like undies, a polartec shirt and an old sun hat are perfectly reasonable attire.